Guwahati: The Gauhati High Court on Friday dismissed a PIL on a series of police encounters since Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma assumed power in May 2021, while saying that no separate probe is required as the state government is already conducting separate investigations on each case.
A division bench comprising Justice Suman Shyam and Justice Susmita Phukan Khaund said the petition was filed by advocate Arif Md Yeasin Jwadder “without properly verifying the complete facts”.
Citing a government affidavit in the case, the court said 56 people have died, including four custodial deaths, while 145 others were injured in 171 incidents between May 2021 and August 2022.
“…accordingly, 171 separate FIRs have been registered in connection with the said incidents. It appears that the process of enquiry in connection with all these cases of police action is still in progress.
“What would be significant to note herein is that there has been no attempt on the part of the official respondents either to deny the occurrence or to suppress any fact from this court,” the order said.
Advocate General Devajit Saikia also assured the court that appropriate action will be taken against all guilty persons, including the erring police officials, after the enquiry is over and it cannot be stated that no action has been initiated by the state in these cases of police action.
“… it appears that having read some media reports on police actions leading to death/injury of some accused persons in police custody, the petitioner has rushed to this court by filing the present petition, without properly verifying the complete facts,” the order read.
The possibility of the petitioner approaching the court “merely seeking some publicity” cannot be entirely ruled out, it said.
The Bench also rejected the petitioner’s prayer for constitution of an SIT or hand over the probe to CBI, saying that this will happen only when a proper case is made out from the facts to demonstrate that the state government has not taken proper action in the matter or there is a deliberate attempt to shield the culprits.
On another prayer in the petition regarding setting up of human rights courts in Assam, the HC noted that 12 such courts have already been set up in different districts.
Jwadder claimed in the PIL that more than 80 “fake encounters” between Assam Police and the accused have taken place since May 2021, when Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma took charge, resulting in deaths of 28 people and injuries of more than 48 others.
The people killed or injured were not dreaded criminals and the modus operandi of police has been the same in all the encounters, the PIL said.
Jwadder sought an enquiry by an independent agency like CBI, SIT or any other police team from other states under the supervision of the court.
The petition elaborated that as per police statements published in newspapers, the accused tried to snatch service revolvers of the police personnel and in self-defence, police had to retaliate and kill or injure the alleged criminal.
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Jwadder cast doubt on the contention and said that as the injured or dead persons were not militants, they were not trained to use pistols and it cannot be the case that all the accused could snatch a service revolver from a trained police officer, whose pistols are normally tied to a rope to their waist belt.
Besides the Assam Government, Assam Police DGP, state Law and Justice Department, National Human Rights Commission and Assam Human Rights Commission respondents to the case.
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